Although this is not a traditional whodunit, fans of mystery and true crime may enjoy van Heemstra’s dogged investigation ... a unique narrative, blending what appears to be historically accurate accounts of the Dutch Resistance during World War II with elements of fabulism. The book is billed as a novel, but it’s never quite clear how much of van Heemstra’s personal story is true, and that gets a bit frustrating. Nevertheless, World War II and its aftermath can feel far removed from our modern-day concerns, and van Heemstra deftly shows how ripples of this famous Sinterklaas bombing reverberate to this day. The reader is left with a number of moral quandaries.
In this fictionalized account of her own family’s history, van Heemstra offers a taut cat-and-mouse mystery made deceptively poignant by a mother’s desire to offer her unborn child the best possible start in life.
... unsettling autofiction investigating issues of war, vengeance, and morality in a profoundly personal way ... what stands out here is van Heemstra’s sharp and nuanced exploration of just how moral one’s own law can be ... Striking portraiture of a fallen hero and the woman who finds him out; piecing together clues, van Heemstra keeps readers absorbed.
The book is brutally honest about pregnancy, abortion, and living with ambiguity. Wry observations abound, well served by Reeder’s translation ... In view of the novel’s firm grounding in fact, one wonders why van Heemstra didn’t simply write a memoir. Perhaps because fiction accommodates any number of wrong turns. The novel ends with an existential shrug, but perhaps that’s the point ... Sometimes rabbit holes contain only rabbits.
... perceptive if tepid ... In a plot punctuated by the travails of a complicated pregnancy, Marjolijn’s investigation touches critical questions about the past and its relation to the present ... Unfortunately, the monotonous and observational narrative, mired in mundane particulars, fails to provide insight on these deeper mysteries. Readers expecting an immersive family drama will be disappointed.